If you know me, you know that I am a death metal fanatic. So, when legendary bands Cannibal Corpse and Obituary announced that they would be touring North America with Cryptopsy and Abysmal Dawn along for the ride, I was nearly beside myself with joy. I mean, you know… brutal joy… stop judging me!
When the night of the Los Angeles tour stop rolled around (3/8/16), I showed up early because I wasn’t about to miss a minute of this stellar lineup. The show took place in downtown L.A. at the beautiful, historic Mayan theater. If you ever get a chance to see a show in this venue, do not hesitate. It really is one of the nicest venues in the L.A. metro area. The only bummer was having to fly solo for this one, as it was a sold-out show and I was on Cannibal Corpse’s guest list with no plus one. So, I didn’t get to bring my trusty sidekick, my 13-year-old son Jesse.
I arrived solo at almost 7:30pm, just in time to catch openers Abysmal Dawn. I first saw these guys at Knotfest last October and was absolutely blown away by them. If anything, they were even better this time around. Even with the venue only beginning to fill up, a sizable circle pit broke out as these guys delivered a pummeling set of old school death metal. They only had 30 minutes onstage, but made the most of every second. I found myself wanting to see a longer set from them, which they could have easily delivered given that they are in their 13th year as a band and have released four amazing records. Go check them out right now. I promise you won’t be sorry.
Up next was Cryptopsy, a band that I’m not especially familiar with despite the fact that they are over 25 years into their career. I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve just never really connected with anything the Canadian outfit has done. They played a tight and energetic set on this night. It was enough to convince me to check them out further, which I’m doing as I write this with the band’s 2015 EP The Book of Suffering – Tome 1 playing in the background. I don’t like to pass judgment on bands that I’m not all that familiar with, but I can tell you that the crowd really seemed to enjoy their brand of technical death metal and the band hung out afterwards at their merch booth, greeting fans and signing stuff, so big props to them for that.
Now, going onstage right before Cannibal Corpse cannot be an easy task, but if anyone was ever up to the challenge, it would be death metal giants Obituary. The Tampa, Florida legends practically invented death metal back in the mid ’80’s. Nearly every one of their nine albums is essential listening for anyone wanting to explore the genre. When they took they stage (to the strains of KISS’ famous “You wanted the best, you got the best” intro), the night truly kicked into overdrive and the pit turned into a writhing mass of humanity. The set drew from across the band’s entire career from their exalted 1989 debut Slowly We Rot right up to 2014’s excellent Inked in Blood. I think the biggest pit of the night opened up as they played the title track from Slowly We Rot. All in all, Obituary put on a master class in old school death metal, whipping the crowd into a frenzy for Cannibal Corpse.
Which brings us to the headliners. Cannibal Corpse is arguably the most well known death metal band on the planet, thanks in part to a cameo that they had in the iconic Jim Carrey film Ace Ventura Pet Detective. They are also infamous for their over the top, gore-saturated gross-out lyrics. The mere sight of the band’s album covers and song titles, such as “Meat Hook Sodomy,” “Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s Cunt,” “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled,” and “Fucked with a Knife,” have been scaring the bejeezus out of parents for well over a quarter of a century now. What is often overlooked though is the fact that the band is comprised of some of the most talented and innovative musicians to be found in any genre of music. They have never compromised their artistic vision or raw brutality to sell more records.
The same could be said of their live shows as well. A Cannibal Corpse show is still an all-out assault on the senses. While they were playing, I found myself marveling at the fact that even all the way at the back of the venue floor, with several hundred folks in front of me, I could still feel the air violently rushing around my legs with every note. The whole venue seemed to pulsate as the band tore through a wide swath of classics including “Born In A Casket,” “Stripped, Raped and Strangled,” and “Hammer Smashed Face,” as well as newer material such as “Sadistic Embodiment,” “Icepick Lobotomy,” and “Kill or Become” from their most recent album A Skeletal Domain. My only criticism of CC is the long and often silent gaps between songs while the musicians tune and prepare for the next song. Frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher is a powerhouse vocalist, but a man of few words. This prompted some jackass behind me to continuously yell “play some fucking music” every time that it occurred. A minor grievance when being treated to such an otherwise insanely amazing display of musicianship. I have never left a Cannibal Corpse show disappointed and I’m happy to say that the streak was not broken this night.
This was through and through an amazing lineup and an excellent show. The tour is already more than half over, but if you get a chance, don’t miss this one; it’s not often that you see a package tour lineup this strong.